The President’s Jobs Speech: Taking a Cue from Harry Truman

Updated

By my count President Obama said “pass this bill” or “pass this jobs bill” 11 times during his speech — where he abandoned past tone of conciliation and instead instilled a sense of urgency. We’ll see what the response is — or if the tone even holds. Largely missing from Obama’s policy proposals were any efforts to connect job growth to a new energy economy, which had been a hallmark in Democratic campaign in the last cycle, and even among a few Republicans.

While much of the focus in the coming days will be on whether the plan has any chance of passing, the focus also should be on how Obama sells his proposals to the American people. Almost a month ago, I went to Obama’s townhall in Cannon Falls, Minn., just outside the Twin Cities. He didn’t have nearly the spirit that he had on display before Congress, even if the crowd was enthusiastic.

The speech was not notable for its rhetoric but for its vigor, and that will be important as Obama travels the country to try to stir up pressure on Congress to act and, knowing full well that the chances are good that they won’t, at least cast himself as a leader with an action plan against GOP obstruction. The comparison to Harry Truman in 1948 is a worn out cliche, but it was rolled out again tonight largely because it may be so apt when the approval ratings of Congress as dismal where Obama’s are merely bad. His chances for reelection written off, Truman ran against a “do nothing” Congress and won.

The full speech is below.

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